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Journal of the Americas

Climate Change as a Regional Security Issue

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This paper analyzes the impacts of climate change on the roles and missions of 
the armed forces in Latin America and the Caribbean, and examines the range of 
missions generated or affected by direct or indirect effects of climate change. First, 
it starts with credible evidence from the United Nations’ intergovernmental panel 
on climate change, which states that temperatures are likely to rise by two to four 
degrees Celsius, thus increasing the number of extreme weather events, and leading to a number of adverse impacts on the region’s economies and socio-economic 
environments; and encourages the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean to ask for the help of their armed forces. Second, this article includes responses to direct effects of weather events, such as tropical storms, floods, droughts, 
and epidemics and pandemics and, additionally, responses to indirect effects of 
climate change, such as increases in the magnitude and frequency of forced migration, crime and social protest, and a possible increase in wars between states. 
This paper also examines the possible roles of the armed forces in helping their 
communities reduce carbon emissions and mitigating the effects of the environment created by global warming.

The analysis concludes that the armed forces will face a large number of missions, 
and a change in the mix of missions, with some presenting greater demands than 
before. With these anticipated changes, this paper argues that the armed forces need 
to address a dialogue within their communities about their roles responding to new 
challenges, to include authorizations and legal protections, funds, equipment required, and changes in their organizational structure, military education, training, 
concepts and doctrine; in order to play an effective role in governmental response.

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